A most welcome gift arrived Dec. 12: pure dance, pure music, and pure poetry. It was "Jardín de Mis Sueños," Caminos Flamencos' new show (repeating in Mountain View on Dec. 21) and the last one at ODC Theater, which starts extensive renovations in January. Caminos Flamencos artistic director Yaelisa put together a most appealing evening of good dancing in which each artist's contribution threw a different light on flamenco.
Working with excellent company members Fanny Ara, Christina Hall, Melissa Cruz, and Marina Elana were always-impressive music director Jason McGuire on guitar and first-rate singers Felix de Lola and, in his company debut, Miguel Rosendo. However, while the café seating, developed for Caminos Flamencos' monthly Sunday series, created an invitingly informal atmosphere, it also meant the sight lines were not that conducive to enjoying an art form with so much emphasis on footwork. A better arrangement might be worth looking into.
In De lo Jondo spectacular guest artist Andrés Peña wrapped fiendishly fierce footwork into triple pirouettes that ended in slithery asides. While it was fun to watch such technical mastery, it was the fusion of Peña's dancing with singers Rosendo and, especially, de Lola's lamentations that kept me at the edge of my seat. Cruz wove a quasi-symphonic ebb and flow into her multimovement Lamento. One moment she was all swooping roundedness, with serpentine curves and flowing arms; in the next she broke into crystalline, complex heelwork that sent shivers up her torso. Here control and abandon collaborated in a performance of exceptional musicality.
The ominously dangerous-looking Pasos a Dos paired tall and elegant Ara with wispy Hall. At first the two women circled each wearily with punkish aggression, but then the confrontation blossomed into a friendly competition. While the three ensemble numbers showed the company members as at ease with one another and allowed for small solo excursions, flamenco, at heart, remains a solo form. None proved that more than Yaelisa herself, as regal and nuanced as ever. In her first solo, unlisted in the program, she performed in silence. And yet she sang with maternally scooping arms, shimmering feet, and an embracing of the floor that recalled early Martha Graham. In the eponymous Jardín, she emerged out of darkness and opened herself to de Lola's melismas, only to withdraw again and again into a world that we could only guess at. What a woman, and what a dancer.
YAELISA AND CAMINOS FLAMENCOS
Fri/21, 8 p.m., $15$35
Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts
500 Castro, Mountain View
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